Bauer Media, publisher of dozens of magazines including Australian Women’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar, is suspending the printing of “certain titles” and laying off 140 staff as coronavirus hits the advertising industry.
The announcement came just hours after Bauer title TV Week cancelled the TV Week Logies, which were originally to be held on the Gold Coast on 28 June.
The German-owned media giant refused to say which magazines would not be published but indicated some may never return to print.
However, sources say the staff of fashion magazines Harper’s Bazaar and Elle and gossip weeklies OK! and NW have been stood down so they are likely to be among the titles affected.
“The affected brands’ digital assets will continue to operate,” Bauer said in a statement. “The decision to resume print publication will be made once the trading environment improves.”
Bauer Media’s planned acquisition of Seven West Media’s Pacific Magazines, which publishes Better Homes & Gardens, New Idea and Marie Claire, is expected to be completed on Friday despite speculation Bauer may have wanted to pull out.
Announced in October 2019, the $40m merger has been delayed for several weeks but Seven has told the Australian Securities Exchange the deal will now complete on 1 May.
Bauer staff were told by the Australian chief executive, Brendon Hill, on Wednesday that a restructure of the company meant that 70 people were to be made redundant and another 70 stood down.
“These are unprecedented times,” Hill said. “The Covid-19 crisis and the strict measures being taken to control it are having a profound impact on the Australian economy and any business that operates in it.
“This has led to a sharp decrease in advertising revenues in Australia over the short term and we have had to reshape our organisation accordingly.”
The company blamed the impact of the coronavirus in Australia on advertising revenue but the magazine industry has been scaling back for years due to the digital revolution.
Many Australia titles have closed in the past few years, including Cleo, Top Gear, Zoo, Madison, Grazia, Burke’s Backyard, BBC Good Food, FHM and Cosmopolitan.
Since Kerry Packer’s ACP Magazines was sold by Nine Entertainment for $500m in 2012, several titles have had their editorial teams merged and others closed entirely.
Men’s magazine the Picture and the 69-year-old People magazine will close at the end of the year, ending decades of printed weeklies featuring topless models and readers’ sex stories, after they were banned from sale at service stations.
The TV Week Logies, the annual awards night for the television industry, would be held next year, said the Bauer Media Group publisher, Fiona Connolly.
“All parties agree the most positive outcome is to not hold the TV Week Logies, including public voting, in 2020 but to stage an even bigger event on the Gold Coast in 2021,” she said.
“The TV Week Logies is loved because it is a live event, with viewers at home enjoying seeing the red-carpet glamour and the entertainment community coming together to celebrate the television industry.”